The X Games were held at Mt. Snow before a crowd estimated at 83,500. There were 92 athletes from 16 countries competing on the snow for a piece of the $445,200 purse. Todd Richards was the big winner, picking up a Gold Medal in the Superpipe and a Silver in Slopeside. This was enough to win the Grand Prize, a brand new Volkswagen plus a lot of cash. US athletes won 43 medals, Canadians took 10, Norwegians and Swedes took 2 each and one medal went to France and one to Great Briton. It was a typically cold Vermont winter day, with the temperature in the 20’s on Saturday.
It was exciting to cover such a big sporting event, with so many different types of competition. I was able to assist the folks from Transcend Magazine when their digital camera froze, so you will be able to find some of my mountain bike action photos published on their website. I took a lot of action shots of these mountain bikers careening down course. There was plenty of action as racers crashed into each other as they drove around banked turns, studded tires slipping on the soft snow and careened over big jumps, as they dashed for the finish line. I met beautiful April Lawyer, from Big Bear Lake in California, who rides for Team Maxxis Tires and top competitor Phil Tintsman, of Phoenix Arizona, riding for Iron Horse bicycles.
The weather forecast for bitter colder on Sunday with high winds. To protect the athletes, the venue was changed for the Big Air competitions and they were held on a hill with a smaller kicker and they made it the best trick out of two. The really nasty conditions predicted by the weatherman never materialized and it turned out to be a nice day to watch the events, ski and ride, even though it was on the brisk side and the wind did gust from time to time.
The X Games began with the Skier X competition which was dominated by the crew from California, with Shaun Palmer from Lake Tahoe winning the Gold and a cool $10,000. Bill Hudson from Squaw Valley placing 2nd and Zack Crist from Sun Valley came in 3rd. Palmer got out in front early and stayed there, leading the pack down short straights, banked turns and jumps to land in the winners circle in this race reminiscent of the Chinese Downhill from the movie “Hot Dog” without the weapons. This champion snowboarder picked up his 5th gold medal in three sports. He has dominated snowboarding and now adds this medal to the ones he already has in snowboarding, snowcross and mountain biking. The women’s Skier X competition was won by Anik Demers, a Canadian from Lac-Beauport in Ontario, 2nd place went to Chaira Lawrence from Squaw Valley , with Patti Sherman-Kauf winning the Bronze.
Derw Neilson came in 1st with Scott Gaffney placing 2nd and Jason Ford 3rd (Shaun Palmer placed 4th.) In this event that combines jumps, banked turns and straights. For the women, it was Leslee Oldson (USA) bringing home the Gold, Carlee Baker (Canada) won Silver laurels, and Line Oestvold (Norway) taking the Bronze Medal.
In the snowboarding Slopestyle competition, Kevin Jones came in 1st, Todd Richards grabbed the Silver and Peter Line nailed down 3rd place. For the Women, it was Tara Dakides in 1st place (duplicating last year’s win), Jamie Macleod in 2nd and Barrett Christy in 3rd. The event was filled with jumps and BIG hits off natural and man-made objects in the snowboard park arena. For the women, it was Tara Dakides in 1st pale, Jamie MacLeod in 2nd and Barrett Christy in 3rd.
Tucker Hibbert, 15-year old son of Snowcross ledgend Kirt Hibbert blew away the competition (including his dad who finished 5th) in this spectacular event, as he kicked up his heels crossing the finish line. After a very tight start, Tucker found a gap and grabbed the lead and held on to it for the Gold. Blair Morgan won the Silver and T.J. Gullia won the Bronze medal in this exciting snowmobile event.
Myles Rockwell came in 1st for the men as he charged down the course on his mountain bike. This event is a lot like Motocross only without the noise. It has jumps, banked turns and flat-track foot work, combined with crashes as the studded tires slip on the soft snow. Mike King place 2nd and Nigel Page 3rd in this event. For the women, it was Katrina Miller winning the Gold, Tara Llanes Silver and Elke Brutsaert Bronze Medals.
Skier Big Air
Frenchman Candide Thovex won this event by nailing an Inverted 900 on his 1st jump and a clean Lincoln 180 with a switch landing.for his second jump. Skogen Sprang placed 2nd with a Switch Rodeo 720 with a switch landing and Evans Raps placing 3rd
Snowboard Big Air
Women Tara Dakides winning 1st place honors with back-side 720 for her 1st jump and a Lindy back flip for her nd jump, Leah Wagner came in 2nd with a perfect Front Flip and Jessica Dalpaiz came in3rd. Peter Line took the Gold with a Calf 900 going in fakie, Jason Borgstede took 2nd with an Upside-down Inverted Switch and Keven Jones placed 3rd with a Front-side 900.
This tag-team event had snowboarder Travis McLain from the US and skier Peter Lind from Sweden winning the Gold, Scott Gaffney and Sverre Liliequist 2nd, and Terry Plum and Mike Dillion 3rd
This event was won by Todd Richards, with Poss Powers taking 2nd and Tommy Czeschin 3rd for the men and S. Brun Kjeldaas taking home the Gold for the women, Barrett Christy placing 2nd, edging out Natasza Zurek who came in 3rd
This event was won by Neal Lyons with Mike Nick placing 2nd and Nick Adams placing 3rd as these athletes competed on their tiny skis.